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RIYADH: Winter is well and truly here and Saudis are adding a layer or two to their outfits to help them cope with the colder temperatures.

A particularly popular item found in Saudi winter wardrobes is a traditional Bedouin overcoat known as a farwa, versions of which have for hundreds of years kept locals warm during the long, harsh winter nights. winter in the cold and unforgiving desert.

The long, oversized coat, made of thick, comfortable material, is especially common in the northern and central parts of the Arabian Peninsula, where temperatures can drop surprisingly low. Its lining is usually made of sheepskin or fur and its cut is similar to that of the traditional Arabian coat known as the bisht.

This fashionable new era of farwa began with local shops and businesses thriving by putting a modern, stylish spin on traditional Arabic clothing. (Hedra)

In the past, the farwa was a men’s garment, worn by tribesmen and royalty, but styles, cuts and fur linings varied according to social class and status.

Nowadays it is worn by both men and women and is considered by many to be an essential part of their wardrobe. In the modern era, it has also become a fashion item among some Saudis as part of a creative winter ensemble. As a result, the farwa can now be found in a myriad of modern designs and bright colors, sometimes adorned with cultural patterns and embroidery.

This fashionable new era of farwa began with local shops and businesses thriving by putting a modern, stylish spin on traditional Arabic clothing.

“The farwa is our way of preserving our cultural identity, while giving people something new and exciting, something they can play with by mixing and matching different clothes and accessories,” Manal Al-Harbi said. , a Saudi entrepreneur and owner of Gabba. , a shop in Riyadh.

She said the farwas sold in her store are all handmade and most of the ones on the market these days are made of synthetic materials. The average price is around $370, she added, but some can sell for as much as $2,600.

Gabba, a shop in Riyadh, sells handmade farwas in its shop. (Gaba)

“It depends on the materials you use,” Al-Harbi said. “Real fur from animals will be much more expensive, as the process from raw material to final product is long, laborious and very expensive.”

Real fur must first undergo intensive processing to remove the animal’s scent, she explained, and then it is dyed and further processed to achieve the soft, inviting texture that customers love.

Individual designers and fashion houses have put their own spin on the farwa. Al-Harbi, for example, focuses on women’s farwas with minimalist designs that can suit any occasion, though she’s also happy to accept custom orders.

“Previously, Saudi women wore jackets over their abayas, but today the farwa is the abaya because it looks like it and also serves two purposes: keeping them warm while looking more elegant,” she said.

According to Al-Harbi, the trend towards more elegant products started about 10 or 12 years ago and has accelerated in recent years. Almost every household in towns in the central and northern parts of the Kingdom will own a few to wear during the cold season, she said.

Jeddah-born Hussain Abedi, 25, told Arab News he thought he was done with the cold weather when he returned to Saudi Arabia after living in the UK. But after moving to Riyadh and experiencing its cold winters, he realized he had errands to run.

“I sometimes go farwa hunting with my friends,” he said. “It’s just something I like to wear and buy different styles. It can be difficult to choose a specific color or design pattern, but overall wearing a farwa feels like a warm embrace.

They also make great gifts, Abedi added, and can make a fashion statement among friends, especially when the farwa is made with real fur.

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